Tuesday, May 6, 2008

bon mots and bagatelles

Gene Wilder's short novel (176 pages) The Woman Who Wouldn't is an amusing and tender tale about a musician who has a break down during a concert and subsequently goes to a sanatorium in Badenweiler, Germany. The story takes place in 1903, includes visits with Anton Chekhov who is there dying of consumption.

Without writing any spoilers, I can only say that the book has a lovely sentimental touch. Some may indeed find it ultimately too sweet, but it pleased me and made me cry. Interestingly enough, it even has a couple of sex scenes, but they're not pornographic nor erotica in nature. I think that's a little difficult to pull off. They are also intrinsic to the story; short as the book is, extra- gratuitous words aren't really there.

If we have to give it stars, I'd say 3 out of 5. It's worth reading. I'm doubtful that I'd read it a second time--not because it was bad, but because I've done that now. And part of the impact of the book is in going through for the first time and experiencing it as it develops. But be fair: I don't read many mysteries a second time either and they're perfectly fine reading the first time.

Finally, if you have the chance, listen to the audio book read by Gene Wilder himself. As both an actor and the author, he catches everything just right with his voice.

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